Who will replace Alex Rodriguez?With A-Rod injured, who will handle the hot corner?
But even though the 25-man docket is complete, the question still remains as to who exactly will replace A-Rod on an everyday basis at the hot corner. General manager Brian Cashman told ESPNNewYork.com on Wednesday that "Eric Chavez is the solution," and it was Chavez who was in the starting lineup for Wednesday's series finale in Seattle.
Cashman continued by saying, "Chavez is the solution and Jayson Nix is the solution, and whoever we have in the farm system are going to have to be the solution," but then later also said that even though he won't actively peruse the trade market, that "doesn't mean I won't listen." Given Cashman's stealth success even in the face of denial (see also: Monday's Ichiro blockbuster), nothing is out of the realm of possibility, so here are some pros and cons for their potential choices.
ERIC CHAVEZ: Chavez is the “logical” choice, being that he is a multiple-time Gold Glove third baseman and is hitting .276 with eight home runs and 20 RBI in 152 at-bats this season. Chavez would provide stellar defense and would be the best hitting option on the roster right now, but he does have the concern of durability; despite Cashman also saying that "I expect him to be able to play third base for us every day, and to play it well," Chavez' 63 games played this season mark the most action he’s seen since 2007 (when he played 90 games for Oakland), and he is just a handful of at-bats and plate appearances away from surpassing last season’s totals and making those numbers his highest since 2007 as well. He has also hit just .077 against left-handers this year, which could be a concern given that the Yankees could see a lot of very tough lefties over the next six weeks.
JAYSON NIX: Nix has played four positions for the Bombers this season, including six games at third base, and with Ramiro Pena now on the roster he is no longer the only viable option behind Derek Jeter at shortstop. While his defense has been great everywhere as well, Nix’s biggest concern would be his offensive splits; he is hitting .275 in 51 at-bats against lefties, but just .176 in 34 AB against righties.
RAMIRO PENA: Pena is noted as an excellent defender, and given his ability to play all the infield positions plus a little bit in the outfield, he provides the kind of flexibility that would comfortably allow Joe Girardi to continue giving Derek Jeter or Robinson Cano a few days as the DH. But, while he is a very slick fielder, Pena is the weakest hitter of the three, at least at the Major League level. He was hitting .253 in 281 at-bats at Triple-A, but hit just .100 in 40 AB for the Yankees last year and has a career MLB average of .233 in 309 at-bats.
While any one of the three could become the full-time third baseman, another idea to keep in mind is that a matchup platoon of the three could work out very well for the Yankees. Given their hitting splits, deploying Chavez against right-handers and Nix against lefties – with Pena being used to spell them late in games defensively and/or pinch run – plays to their strengths while minimizing their weaknesses.
Of course, there are the other two possibilities as the Yankees prepare for life without A-Rod in August, that being someone in the Minor League system or even a potential outside acquisition. Those two choices have their advantages and drawbacks as well, the least of which is Cashman's denial of the need to make a move.
No matter what happens, it will surely be a very fluid situation until A-Rod is healed, and it's up to Cashman and Joe Girardi (and whoever they choose on a day-to-day basis to play the hot corner) to weather this latest storm.
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES